Saturday 31 May 2008

Uncontacted Indians?!


???Uncontacted Indians?!??? ??? contact an anthropologist!: "The source of a lot of the information about ???uncontacted people??? is Survival International, a group that I generally think struggles valiantly for the human rights of groups who wish to remain isolated from national populations and preserve their ways of life. But in this case, I wonder if they???re doing a bit of harm with the good, by bringing the whole ???uncontacted Indian??? thing to the table."
One of the reasons these groups are attracting attention is that they are under pressure, especially on the Peruvian side of the border, not only from the usual suspects (miners, loggers, and ranchers), but also from a French petroleum company that wants to drill in the area. Why can???t we go with THAT story

Thursday 29 May 2008

Some biofuels might do more harm than good

Some biofuels might do more harm than good: "new research led by a biologist at the University of Washington, Bothell, shows that some of the most popular current biofuel stocks might have exactly the opposite impacts than intended.

The study looked at factors such as the energy needed to produce a renewable fuel source compared with how much energy is produced, the impact on soil fertility and effects on food supply when fuels based on crops such as corn and soybeans are mixed with fossil fuels. Based on those factors, the authors determined that corn-based ethanol is the worst alternative overall."

"It's foolish to say we should be developing a particular biofuel when that could mean that we???re just replacing one problem with another"

Lotus Therapy

Lotus Therapy: Big money in zazen, the little circle monk has come into his own in the wellness marketplace - "Mindfulness meditation has become perhaps the most popular new psychotherapy technique of the past decade."
???I think that back then, other researchers had to be very careful when they talked about this, because they didn???t want to be seen as New Age weirdos. So they didn???t call it mindfulness or meditation. After a while, we put enough studies out there that people became more comfortable with it.???
What I notice they don't say is the generations of patients the scoundrels completely fleeced and screwed over during their 80-plus years of denying all utility of the traditional methods. But I won't get into that :)


In the jazzier genre, here's the Belmont Sr. Secondary Jazz Band "A"; what I really like about this clip is the infectious joy of the performance. The kids take a chance on taking a rollicking favourite, and making it their own, right down to the "Play that Funky Music" intro, it is their music, their sound played their way.

Which is the only way we can play it. I think it was Joe Walsh (of the Eagles) who said there was no sin in stealing licks from other players because you cannot recreate their sound. Even if we have the same gear strung in the same way, we won't have the same feel, we will have our own, it will be our music whether or not we consciously try to copy the past. John Cage proved as well how you cannot even copy your own performance; the wire-recordings of the most expert players do not line up.

This particular moment of play, it's yours, you own it, the moment already has your stamp on it; you might as well roll it out your own way. It may be a Mingus romp an Amparito Roca or a Star Spangled Banner or Steve Reich's 6 players: you are going to be yourself out there, so you can be all timid and standing self-conscious in someone's shadow, or you can go out there and boldly be who you are.

"If we're gonna die out there, Benny, let's die doin' our own stuff." (Gene Krupa)

Amazon: Charles Mingus

Monday 26 May 2008

Measure your musical-visual intelligence

Skilled at visual learning? Measure your musical-visual intelligence online!: "What is AMVI? Associative Musical Visual Intelligence (or 'amvi' for short) is a type of intelligence that's difficult enough to define, let alone test. Many creative people can associate across sensory domains: they 'hear' hints of shapes and can 'taste' the essense of colors. At its most extreme this phenomenon is called synesthesia. However, I believe that creative people subconsciously employ elements of synesthesia every day when attempting to think of things in new ways. This is a logic test that attempts to measure one's ability to correlate musical phrases with abstract shapes and symbols."
Very innovative and well executed bio-test of your musical abilities; this ain't your average amateur FB quiz-gizmo. Jake says the test is intentionally 'hard' tho I suspect its said that way so as to lure in more musician egos ;)

It is tricky so keep your wits about you; Without headphones, I scored an overall middle-excellent 85% factored out, in ascending order of cognition required, as:

79.9% in Pitch Discrimination (Robert is chuckling now)
83.5% in Musical Memory (ch ch ch changes ....)
81.9% in Contour Discrimination (barely Exceptional ;)
82.8% in Attention (comes from living with kids)
88.7% in Transmodal Musical/Visual Abstraction!!

Be sure to check out his other tests for tone-deafness (86.1% but I slipped on one click), relative pitch perception (3.45Hz, my 10 cents worth) and rhythmic memory (80% yo).

As for the author, Jake Mandell, originally a producer, worked for Native Instruments in Berlin. Now, like Daniel Levin, he's soon to graduate U Mass Med School, specialising in Neurology.

Friday 23 May 2008

The Story of Undies


Kiwi goes to China seeking undies' origins:
"It didn't take an awful lot of deduction to say that if I can buy five pairs for $NZ9, then they are paying about 30 cents a pair at the factory gate.

"When you see them piling up at the factory, you think 'that is a lot of 30 cents'."

Guerilla Gardening

a little action movie about rebel urban farmers with GPS, night vision, time-lapse and an assortment of other TV crime-show devices accompanied by quasi-seventies-era bongo suspense music. "They're on a mission ..."

Wednesday 21 May 2008

The Vocabulary of Music

The 100 most clichéd clichés in pop song titles: "37,000 hits on the Billboard Chart since 1890 use a vocabulary of fewer than 9,000 different words; here are the top hundred most frequently used:"begin tag cloud : generated by
Feel free to modify as long as you keep this notice.

This code and its rendered image are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

For commercial licensing, contact Daniel Steinbock,

ain't alone angel arms around away baby bad beautiful believe blue boy change christmas comes crazy cry dance days dear dream ever everybody everything eyes fall feel fire fool forever girl gone gonna goodbye happy heart heaven hey hold kiss la lady leave life light lonely love lover mama man mind mine miss moon moonlight morning mr music night nobody oh people play please rain red remember river rock roll rose sing smile somebody something song soul star stay stop street summer sun sweet sweetheart talk tears theme things think tonight town true walk wanna wish woman wonderful world young
created at

you may laugh at this, but I see a serious sub-text: the words are almost exclusively EMOTION words. There are no words about pattern or ratio or Golden Mean or existential philosophy or any of the topics from Gödel Escher and Bach. Why is it then that the subject of Emotional Expression in Music is so rarely taught, if at all?

Instead of perpetuating the myth of sad-minor jolly-major as if it was all a mechanical given, Grade One Conservatory musicianship training should start the new student with "Play me an angry A Melodic Minor scale, and a solemn E major"

Thinking With the Body

Embodied Cognition - Maria Montessori is vindicated: "'Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of his mind comes about through his movements ... Mind and movement are parts of the same entity.'"
Some illumination on the farce of the Brain as a Computer metaphor, the above video explores the common-sense Checkov Gesture Method for actors - While gathering his thoughts during the Guelph lecture, Anthony Braxton plays an imaginary saxophone; in Bali, they teach dance by manipulating the children like puppets, placing them into each successive position in time to the music. A more urgent question might be to ask where on earth we ever got the idea that Mind and Body should be distinct.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Status: Ramachandran's Mind


Gary is pondering Vilayanur Ramachandran and the paradox of learned injury.

Quick-boot Splashtop


In the future, your PC will boot in 5 seconds.

Quick-boot Linux environment makes a splash: "DeviceVM's quick-booting Splashtop Linux implementation is being pre-installed on four new Asus motherboards. Asus plans to ship over a million per month, making this one of the largest Linux deployments ever.

Branded 'Express Gate' by Asus, Splashtop boots up a prompt within five seconds, letting users either continue booting Windows or instead load a stripped-down Linux environment featuring the Firefox web browser, Adobe Flash, Skype, and a photo viewer."

Monday 19 May 2008

Mommy Knows Best

with special guests Michel Gondry, Suzanne Vega, Ornette Coleman; Special Music by host Mark Kostabi, Jed Distler & Michel Gondry
This is, easily, the most bizarre and surreal game show I think I have ever seen, and I've seen a lot of surreal game show TV. but this one, with the sets, the host, the guests, the 'band', the p-a-c-e, and best of all, the prizes, it's got to rate some kind of prize.

Saturday 17 May 2008

Billions of electronic-eating 'crazy rasberry ants' invade Texas


Billions of electronic-eating 'crazy rasberry ants' invade Texas: "It sounds like the plot of a farfetched science fiction movie. Unfortunately for the residents of Texas, it is very much a reality: billions of tiny reddish-brown ants have arrived onshore from a cargo ship and are hell-bent on eating anything electronic."
Sounds too good to be true: unstoppable electronics devouring ants sweeping across the USA -- but a google on paratrenicha.species.near.pubens shows it's a very real and present blessing or danger, depending how you feel about such things.

Friday 16 May 2008

Avoiding risk


Cognition and Language Lab: Avoiding risk: "On the X axis is objective gains and losses (for sake of simplicity, assume what we are gaining and losing is money). On the Y axis is subjective utility -- how much you like the gain or dislike the loss.

The striking thing is that the line is not straight."

the difference between winning $5 and winning $15 is greater than the difference between winning $1005 and $1015. The same goes for losses -- losing $5 is annoying, but losing an extra $5 on top of a loss of $1000 is just a drop in the bucket.
"This graph also shows that losses loom larger than gains, but I leave it to the reader to work this out for themselves."

Junk Computers as Fuel


Junk Computers Could Fuel Cars: "Researchers in Romania have created a way to transform bits and pieces of printed circuit boards from jettisoned computers into clean raw materials for consumer products, such as fuel and plastics."
"The recycling of scrap printed circuit boards is becoming increasingly important because some of the metals they contain are becoming increasingly scarce."
considering the 'reserves' stacked up in my basement workshop, hmmm, maybe I could become an energy baron after all!

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Mushrooms can save the world (again)

Mycologist Paul Stamets studies the mycelium soil magicians -- and lists 6 ways that this astonishing fungus can help save the world ... just like they did during the first five extinctions.

Robert Rauschenberg: 1926 - 2008


Robert Rauschenberg: "'An artist manufactures his material out of his own existence???his own ignorance, familiarity or confidence. I come to terms with my materials. They know and I know that we???re going to try to do something. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn???t but I would substitute anything for preconceptions or deliberateness. If that moment can???t be as fresh, strange and unpredictable as what???s going on around you, then it???s false."

Monday 12 May 2008

Status: MrG, Energy Magnate

Gary wants to take that course on how to become an oil sheik, but now he can't find that matchbook cover!

Harnessing off-shore wind

Harnessing off-shore wind: John Moylan visits a wind farm off the coast of Lincolnshire.
If you check the regional wind maps, you'll see that while Shelbourne and Ferndale are moderately sufficient locales, there are massive regions just off-shore in Lake Huron and in Georgian Bay where the Location Suitability Index is nearly off the scale.

Mind you, the bad news is that the cost of wind turbines seems to be doubling every few years, and you need some back up for the days when the winds don't blow, but off-shore that's far more rare and being off-shore, there are build economies of scale in the larger possible rigs.

Change We Can Stomach


Change We Can Stomach: "Finding guilt-free food for our menus ??? food that???s clean, green and humane ??? is about as easy as securing a housing loan. And we???re suddenly paying more ??? But here???s the good news: we can have a hand in making food for the future downright delicious.

Farming has the potential to go through the greatest upheaval since the Green Revolution, bringing harvests that are more healthful, sustainable and, yes, even more flavorful. The change is being pushed along by market forces that influence how our farmers farm."

Thursday 8 May 2008

Help the Bees: Eat Ice Cream!


Protect the Future of Ice Cream... by Eating Ice Cream: The two new flavors???Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream and Vanilla Honey & Granola frozen yogurt???are both delicious. The honey flavor is sharp without overwhelming the vanilla, and samples left in DISCOVER???s freezer vanished in record time."
This is to atone for that last "entomologically flavoured" post: "H??agen-Dazs is launching two new honey-bee themed flavors ... No, it's not Ice Cream made with bees, it is made for the bees: A portion of the proceeds will go to geneticists, entomologists, and educators who will research the causes of the bees??? decline, create stronger bees in the laboratory, and teach the public how to make their surroundings more bee friendly."

Help the Environment: Eat Insects


Want to Help the Environment? Eat Insects: ???Perfumey, tastes like salty apples,??? one says. ???Like a scented candle blended with an artichoke,??? another adds.

The giant water bug, or Lethocerus indicus, a three-inch-long South Asian insect that looks uncannily like a local cockroach, is just one of the items on the menu of this bug-eating bacchanal. The Gastronauts??? meal may seem more like a reality TV stunt than a radical environmental strategy, but Gracer is on a serious mission to shake up how we all think about our food supply.

Absolutely the definitive come-back answer to the eco-environmentalist vegans; having entangled a few here and there, I had to bookmark David Gracer's entomophagic crusade.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Prince Of Space (1959)

Monster Island News - Prince Of Space: "Prince of Space was originally a children's series that was produced for Japanese television. The episodes were chopped up and edited together to produce the feature film. The film suffers from this greatly. While again the acting, special effects and story were intended for children's TV the production is nowhere close to the standards of other Japanese sci-fi films made around the same time period, most notably, The Mysterians
y'see, when I was a kid, television was all very postmodern and interactive; it weren't nuthin' if you didn't jump right into the box with your own imagination.

are you going to talk, or do you want me to start with the children? ...

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Struttin' with some barbecue

There's some great talk over on Darcy's blog about the notions of jazz vocabulary and strategies for jazz education, and some very good discussion too, I've chimed in with my own (cosmic) ideas, but the groove of the conversation is tenaciously clinging to the what of the playing more than the why. I find the same when I hunt through videos of school and community bands, more often than not I find execution and articulation but with very little fiyah. They sit, they play, there, done it; next?

They have the 'what' down pat sufficient to dazzle the judges, but there's a gap in their education on the 'why', even though the 'why' of this music is so simple: it is the sound of joy.

Amazon: Louis Armstrong

Monday 5 May 2008

The Worldwide 'Love' Vibe

Worldwide 'Love' Vibe Detected: "A subtle and mysterious global hum has been detected by seismologists studying records from Earth's most boring seismic stations.

The newfound vibration is made of two-minute to five-minute, side-to-side surface seismic waves, also called Love waves ... The discovery comes 10 years after seismologists first identified louder global oscillations that resemble the ringing of a gigantic bell."

Of course, Chubby Checker knew all this YEARS ago.

Friday 2 May 2008

The Folk Song Suite

Encapsulating the mood, the emotion of the time, and setting it forth right there in the concert venue, that's what we do, and last time we looked at the strange attractors of nostalgia and patriotism as the domain for a concert band's command. Here today I'm digging a little deeper, off into a topic that occurs over and over with our music, the whole sense of the deeper meaning of a repetoire piece, in this case Ralph Vaughn Williams' military band tapestry called the Folk Song Suite.

Today's film sets this so-typically-English tune where we normally encounter it, as a statement in nostalgic patriotism, an opus from over 'ome, the iconic epitome of England. That's how many approach the work, as a stately grand and respectful thing, woven from ancient quaint folk songs.

The real story, on the other hand, is quite different. To begin with, these are not just any folk songs; most are old baudy ballads, barrack-room tunes of lusty wenches and trickster maidens and the soldiers who woo both!

You see, in the historical perspective, we have Vaughn Williams as a soon-to-retire commander of a post-war peacetime army band, which is to say a squad of bored young men lead by a man with little or nothing to lose.

"But if you come round to my mummy's house, when the moon shines bright and clearly,

I will come down and let you in, and my mummy shall not hear me.

So I went down to her mummy's house, when the moon shone bright and clearly,

She did come down and let me in, and I lay in her arms till morning."

Ok, hardly competitors to Salt'n'Peppa lyrics, but remember, only the soldiers know the real lyrics of the tunes -- to the bystanding public, it is a quaint english ditty they may have heard hummed by grand-dad at work in the garden. We also have Lazarus and Dives which is the familiar barracks tales of Officers vs Enlisted Men where only one of them is going to find St. Peter's favour, There is the Green Bushes which one might parallel to Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree from WWII swing-era, John Barleycorn, a song about beer and the sad-sack Baffled Knight slyly outwitted by the maid of his (lusty) dreams. For the lonely-hearts, My Bonny Boy could well be the lament of the sweethearts left behind, or those yet to be. If you ask me, it's Soldier-Boy material all the way,

Amazon: Ralph Vaughn Williams


metronomes (or "pendula") when on table, oscillate with random phases, since that is how they started and they are "uncoupled" (no energy/information flows from one to other so they do not "know" each other.) When they are??? all together on the cans, notice that the cans themselves oscillate little, providing coupling/information crossover. which forces "synchronization" in periodic systems.

a compelling illustration why multitrack recording is counter-productive to the production of musical energy? while editing a digital recording of a big-band concert, I noticed the 5 leading reeds were perfectly aligned, their triangle waves all in synchronous peak; when co-located in close proximity (relative to the listener) synchronous waves would give a power function growing exponentially with the number of players.